SE8: Developing policies that require developers to connect and/or contribute to existing or proposed district heating schemes
Description and rationale for policy objective
The object of this policy is to ensure that the opportunity for new or existing development to facilitate, create or expand DHNs is capitalised on. The policy may designate areas as strategic district heating areas and require development in these areas to be designed to facilitate the use of DHNs and to connect to a DHN where one exists or is planned. This policy could cover the following:
Requiring new buildings to be designed to be compatible with DHNs, for example in terms of:
- safeguarding DHN routes;
- ensuring that plant rooms have access arrangements for the entry of a heat main;
- ensuring that the flow and return heating temperatures for buildings are optimised to suit the heat network;
- ensuring that other buried services don’t create barriers to laying heat mains, and, where possible, provide suitable duct space
- ensuring that the layout and density of new development is such that it minimises, as far as possible, the cost of laying heat mains
These requirements could be set out in an SPD or a design code that developers would be required to adhere to.
- Paying a connection fee/ making a financial contribution towards the cost of connection;
- Providing an energy centre and/or land for the same;
This policy objective can also be used in combination with a Sustainable Energy Infrastructure Fund, see policy option SE7.
The benefits of such a policy can be as follows:
- it can provide developers in those areas with a ready made solution for them to meet their future requirements under Building Regulations for zero carbon at minimum cost and effort;
- by encouraging the development and expansion of a DHN, it may also facilitate the connection of existing buildings to the network, with consequently larger carbon emissions;
- it can improve the bankability and viability of DHN schemes, and attractiveness to ESCos, as it provides them with a firm guarantee of future heat loads and customers;
- helps ensure that any existing heat generation plant is utilised to its full potential, with consequent benefits in terms of carbon savings, and financial performance.
The DHNs may be delivered through private investment, community investment, the public sector or a combination of the above in partnership. Policies like this can be important to attract private finance from ESCos and to give them the confidence to invest in such sites.
In considering a development area or site-specific target, planning authorities should pay particular attention to opportunities for utilizing existing decentralised and renewable or low-carbon energy supply systems and to fostering the development of new opportunities to supply proposed and existing development. Such opportunities could include co-locating potential heat customers and heat suppliers. Where there are existing decentralised energy supply systems, or firm proposals, planning authorities can expect proposed development to connect to an identified system, or be designed to be able to connect in future. In such instances and in allocating land for development, planning authorities can set out how the proposed development would be expected to contribute to securing the decentralised energy supply system from which it would benefit.
When specifying requirements for new development to secure energy from decentralised and renewable or low-carbon energy sources, planning authorities can set specific requirements to facilitate connection. Any requirement must be fair and reasonable and, in particular, not restrict those with responsibility for providing energy to new development, or the occupiers, to any one energy provider in perpetuity.
Creating local area energy networks - Planning Advisory Service